Ms. Marvel: How have the newest MCU hero’s powers changed for the Disney+ series?

Ms Marvel waving while surrounded by lightsMarvel/Disney+

Ms. Marvel is coming to Disney+ this week, but some changes have been made to the superhero’s powers.

Fans are loving the newest MCU hero on the block. In this case, it’s Ms. Marvel, a high school girl from New Jersey who admires Captain Marvel and wants to follow in her footsteps, becoming a hero in her own right along the way.

Ms. Marvel has set a precedent as Marvel’s first on-screen Muslim superhero, as well as being one of the few female and teenage main characters in a Marvel project. The show seems to be bringing the comic to life spectacularly, with bright colors and fun art style that perfectly fit the imaginative world of Ms. Marvel, who is also known as Kamala Khan.

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However, like every adaptation, there are some changes. And for the upcoming Disney+ series, one of the biggest seems to be the hero’s powers.

How have Ms. Marvel’s powers changed for Disney+?

Ms. Marvel’s powers, as they are in the comics, are given a descriptive explanation on Fandom: “She possesses latent Inhuman lineage activated by the Terrigen Bomb. When she was exposed to the Terrigen Mist she became a polymorph with the ability to stretch her body in almost any way imaginable.”

Ms Marvel stands proudly in her comic bookMarvel
The Ms. Marvel comics are beloved.

But in the show, things are different. According to Decider, Khan “is no longer a size-and-shape-changing Inhuman. Instead, she has a brand new powerset that sets her apart from her comic book origins.

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“Now Ms. Marvel can manipulate purple-hued light that turns into a super strong crystalline structure with but a thought.”

Kamala’s powers in the show aren’t triggered by an otherworldly mist, but rather by a mysterious bangle that had been passed down by her equally mysterious great grandmother, Aisha. It was then revealed that every woman on her mother’s side of the family is a Djinn; a supernatural being who once resided in the Noor Dimension, a dimension that is made up of the light that Kamala produces.

But that’s not everything. There had always been an underlying question throughout the show: how come Kamala had powers that no other Djinn had? No one else seemed to be able to produce the same light or open a portal, so what made Kamala different?

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Well, the answer is revealed ambiguously in the final episode of the series, but it seems clear in the grand scheme of the MCU: Kamala has mutant DNA.

Why have her powers changed for Disney+?

According to a Decider interview with Ms. Marvel head writer Bisha K. Ali, and series executive producer – and Kamala Khan co-creator – Sana Amanat, there’s plenty of reason behind the change in Ms. Marvel’s powers.

The main issue is that Khan’s backstory in the comics has not really been established in the MCU. As Ali states: “Bearing in mind that we’re doing a show for the MCU, which is 10 years of a web of storytelling, but we’re fitting into [a world that’s] fundamentally different from the one in the comics.”

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In the comics, Khan’s powers and the mist that triggered them were created during another super-team’s storyline, one following the Inhumans. However, after the failed Inhumans ABC series in 2017, the MCU has basically ignored them. So without the Inhumans in the MCU, Ms. Marvel inevitably had to get her powers another way.

Not only that, but as Ms. Marvel will be joining Captain Marvel in a future movie – which will no doubt include dimensional travel and light power, if we’re going by that end-credit scene – then it seems clear that MCU Kamala’s powers are intentionally more similar to MCU Carol Danvers’ powers than they are in the comics. Be this for a plot or thematic reason, we’ll have to wait and see.

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Furthermore, there have been plenty of theories linking to other MCU properties, such as Shang-Chi and his 10 rings, but that mutant reveal seems to be specifically setting up another project in the future: The X-Men.

As for the bangle, while some may call it a Green Lantern knockoff, it actually has a lot of thematic significance. As Amanat argues: “Bisha, our head writer, and her wonderful team of writers, they pulled from the comic that idea of the bangle, which is also connected to her family and the fact that it was passed down and it meant something.

“To me that was so beautiful, because ultimately this story is one about identity. And linking the bangle to her family and to the root of her power is a really powerful statement.”

Should fans be nervous about Ms. Marvel’s change in powers?

So far, Kamala’s change in powers has not resulted in any massive outcry from fans, though some may lament how the puberty subtext that her previous powers represented – being that her physicality was changing in size, and often she could be grossed out be her own body – will not be present in the show. And while her power being similar to Captain Marvel’s help emphasise how much she wishes to emulate the older superhero, it potentially leaves Ms. Marvel lacking in individuality.

But while such a stark change may be jarring, Marvel has proven that it can handle big leaps before.

As stated by Decider: “Pretty much all of Marvel’s superheroes have had to undergo a few tweaks in order to make their big screen debut. Maybe Thor doesn’t need to swap places with a human doctor. Maybe we don’t need to see Uncle Ben die again. Maybe Drax doesn’t need to be a mustachioed human saxophone player who, upon suffering fatal injuries in a car accident, had his consciousness transplanted into a humanoid killing machine carved out of Earth’s soil.

“This is the magic of Marvel Studios: they know how to streamline characters so that they don’t carry a bunch of outdated baggage from the 1960s and still appeal to lifelong superfans.”

Ultimately, Ms. Marvel’s powers will develop long into her time with the MCU, and we can at least trust that this change will have happened for a reason. And at the very least, her new powers are super fun to watch.

Ms. Marvel is available to stream in full on Disney+